Club Legend pleads AFL to look at Subi
- Monday, 28 April 2014
Written by Austin Robertson
I love football for nothing if not the belief – the hope at least – that at any moment something special might happen..
Today, fresh faces, top draft picks and enduring stars transferring from one heavyweight team to another dominate the headlines of our footy.
But there is another cohort of footballers who can have an immediate and significant, if sometimes unheralded impact.
Call them mature age recruits, or, better still, late bloomers.
Two stunning examples of this are the iPod, James Podsiadly, and Michael Barlow. Podsiadly started with Geelong at the ripe old age of 28 and after three seasons found himself transferred to Adelaide.
Barlow, who mystifyingly slipped under the radar while playing in the VFL, was cleverly spotted by the Dockers and is now one of the starts who make their midfield hum.
In an attempt to lighten the gloom of having no hot cross buns or Easter eggs at my place (because of the bulging waistline), I thought I would treat myself to an evening at the football.
So I headed down to Leederville Oval to watch my old mob, Subiaco, play the West Coast Eagles. OK, OK, play East Perth the Eagles seconds.
On show were no fewer than 13 contracted Eagles.
Heading the list were Callum Sinclair and Scott Lycett, both good big men, along with Jeremy McGovern (who can play) and Blayne Wilson, Ashley Smith, Fraser McInnes, Simon Tunbridge, Sam Butler, Brant Colledge, Jacob Brennan and Malcolm Karpany.
Phew. How were my poor old Lions expected to cope with that sort of artillery?
In the end, there was indeed a yawning gap between the two teams – Subiaco thumped the Royals conglomerate by 24 points. But apart from being a fine night of entertainment, the game left me scratching my head.
Playing for Subiaco were two guys who I thought had something a little special, providing the touch of class that most other players on the field didn’t have.
One was George Hampson (no relation to Reg), a kid from the Scarborough juniors who has gone through the grades right up to league for the Lions.
The other was Lachlan Delahunty, who was cleverly recruited from Frankston in the VFL.
Hampson, I learnt, had missed the draft over the past three years, which astonishes me, and Delahunty, like Barlow had been overlooked in Victoria.
Both these lads can play football.
Save for Sinclair, Lycett and McGovern, both looked better than the others contracted to the Eagles. Both are ready. And both are only 23.
For the record, Hampson had 24 possessions, six inside 50’s and kicked five goals. He would fit neatly into any AFL forward line. He’s slick, he thinks and he’s balanced.
Delahunty, who flew with the grace of an eagle (sorry, pun intented) to take one great grab in the final quarter, impressed throughout the night with 21 possessions and was directly responsible for several centre clearances.
Delahunty would make a perfect outside runner and third-man-up ruckman in the AFL.
Both these guys are fanatical about their fitness, so no problems there.
Hampson does a beep test at a level that can be matched only by eight players from the Hawthorn Hawks and Delahunty has recorded 6:20 in a 2km time trial. That’s elite.
At this stage of the season, it’s not about money; it’s economics of a different kind.
In today’s AFL, supply is always low and demand always high for footballers good enough to make the grape, or at least fill a gap. So teams are on a perpetual search for likely players.
Recruiters should take off their blindfolds, go and have a look at Subi play, then shake coach Jarrad Schofield’s hand and let him know their going to take two of his players.
*Story originally written by Austin Robertson for Post newspapers.